Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blogging from A to Z: Newsletters

Blogging from A to Z is a month long challenge to post every day of the month (excluding Sunday) using a different letter of alphabet. This month I'm sharing unusual book marketing tips as part of my Marketing From The Edge Series.

This goes hand in hand with a mailing list. You do have a mailing list, right? If not, please stop reading this, go to MailChimp and create a mailing list widget you can add right to your website. Even if you don't know how you'll use this list yet, it's never too early to start building it.

Okay, so one of the best ways to stay in regular contact with your mailing list is through Newsletters. Unfortunately, too many writers shy away from them because they don't know what content to include. There's a whole other set of authors who send them, but are under utilizing their effectiveness.

They key to newsletter content is to keep in focused on what your readers want to see. A rundown of your writing life is one way to fill up a page, but is that really what your readers are interested in?

Here are a few ideas for regular features to include that can help improve the number of subscribers who actually read your newsletter.

Book Review
This doesn't need to be a full review if that makes you squeamish. Just add a cover photo and blurb for all the books you read last month. Or just your favorite three. Most readers will find it fascinating to learn what their favorite authors are reading. It makes you look more like a real person and allows the reader to get to know you better. Plus, it's just good karma to help promote other authors.

New genre releases
New books are released by the thousand every week. Include a list of the three releases you're most excited about that fit into the same genre you write in. You could also highlight any book to movie adaptations that you're excited to see. It benefits you to keep readers engaged in your genre, especially when you're in between book releases. Plus, more of that karma is always good.

Progress Report
Briefly let readers know where you are on different projects. Many readers are fascinated by the behind the scenes details of book publishing, but they don't need to know everything. Give a status update on your current drafts, such as 50% done with first draft of a new secret project, working through line edits on new book, etc. Keep this brief and be sure to name books by their title (with release date in parenthesis) if you know it.

Blog Highlight
Go back through all your blog articles from last month and pick the one with the most page views. Include a link to the post with a line or two introduction. You can also single out your favorite blog comment for the month. This is a great way to give a little love to a fan.

Share a look at your calendar for the upcoming month. Be sure to include links to any events you'll be attending. You can also note any guest posts or interviews you have coming up.

If you encourage fans to send you question through your blog or website, this is a great way to increase interaction. Post the question and your answer for everyone to see. This will encourage other readers to send their questions because they'll see that you do answer. You can invite readers to send their questions at the end of each answer.

It's okay to talk about yourself, but don't force this. Keep news limited to information that's actually newsworthy. This can be new book deals, special deals, foreign editions, sales records, or anything else that can highlight your books without sounding trivial.

By including regular sections that aren't always Me, Me, Me readers will be okay when you hijack the newsletter during your release month to talk all about your new book. They will be excited to learn about your new book because you've built a strong relationship.

Just because you aren't going to focus  on your books 100% of the time doesn't mean you have to hide them in your newsletter. It's perfectly okay to show your books with a buy link in the side bar or at the bottom. That way your books are still present without turning your newsletter into one big advertisement. 

If none of these ideas strike your fancy, don't be afraid to ask your readers what they want. The purpose of the newsletter is to engage your readers and increase exposure to your books. If they don't open your email, you won't accomplish either of these goals. Give your readers what they want and they'll give you fans in return.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blogging from A to Z: Magazines

Blogging from A to Z is a month long challenge to post every day of the month (excluding Sunday) using a different letter of alphabet. This month I'm sharing unusual book marketing tips as part of my Marketing From The Edge Series.

If you've ever browsed the selection of a well-stocked book store, you know that there is a magazine out there on every subject in the world. And if the magazine exists, so do its readers. You can tap into this existing market to sell your books.

First, you'll want to take a look at your book and narrow down two or three direct genres your book falls into. This covers the shelf your book would sit on in the store along with any sub-genres or ones that are closely related. Write this down.

Second, go through your book scene by scene and identify any subjects that can be realistically tied to your book. This one is a bit harder so here's an example. Your character is out camping in the desert and loses his gear. He's forced to forage for food, build a fire unassisted by modern technology and create a lean to without tools. Now, your book might be a Romance. This is just one random scene out of many. In this case survival skills can be a relational connection. Again, write these down.

Now, go into a store, library or man your computer to search for magazines that focus on your genres or your scene subjects. Gather contact info for the various editors and make a quick note if this magazine publishes book reviews.

For any that will publish a book review, send a request. Make sure you explain in your review request why you think their readers will want to know about your book. Keep in mind, these magazines don't exist to sell books for you. They are only going to publish an article if they feel it is a good match for their readers. 

If the magazine doesn't offer reviews, this is where your relational connections come into play. You can pitch these editors ideas for articles that you can easily tie into your novel. Using the example above, you can talk about how to build a structure in under an hour, what survival tools you'll want to always have in your pocket, or edible plants in the dessert. You'll open by referring briefly to your character and then write a solid article. 

And just because a magazine doesn't usually do reviews doesn't mean they won't. After the magazine has approved your pitch for an article, thank them and offer to send a copy of your book if they're interested. They may not publish a review in the magazine, but they might be more inclined to include a short promo for the book and/or to put up a review on Amazon.

With magazines, you have the ability to expose a whole new market of readers to your work

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blogging from A to Z: Leave Behind Books

Blogging from A to Z is a month long challenge to post every day of the month (excluding Sunday) using a different letter of alphabet. This month I'm sharing unusual book marketing tips as part of my Marketing From The Edge Series.
Leave Behind Books

Know what rocks? Free books! So how would you feel if you opened up a book set on the side table of a doctor's office and discovered it was a free book for whoever wanted it? I'm thinking pretty excited.

I talked about the power of free yesterday, but that doesn't have to be an exclusive opportunity on Amazon. If your book is in print, you have the opportunity to give away free books whenever you want (and your bank account supports it). And this is where the leave behind book comes into play. 

The idea is pretty simple, you leave a copy of your book in random places, wherever you think your readers are hanging out. To make it easier to spot, put a sticker on the front that says "Free Book".  Hopefully, some lucky reader will find it, read it and love it. But don't stop there.

This free book can be an amazing marketing opportunity. Consider the possibilities if you put another sticker on the inside cover. It would read something like this.

Congrats on finding free book #10. I hope you will read it and love it. If you do love it, I'd love for you to add a review to (link to Amazon or Goodreads). When you're done, add your name and location to the list below and then either pass this book along to a friend or leave it somewhere fun for another reader to find. 

I love to hear from my readers. If you'll send me an email to (your email address) including a picture of you with the book, where you found the book, and/or an update on all the places the book has been, I'll add your picture to the "Reader Hall of Fame" on my website. 

Your signature

You've just created an ongoing interaction with your readers that encourages them to become fans, interact with you and spread the word. Plus, if a reader sends you their picture, they are going to be drawn to your website to see it. This exposes them to your other books and your mailing list. All for the price of one paperback book. Imagine if you put out ten books, twenty, fifty. The possibilities are endless. Even if you can't afford a ton of books, one or two can create a lot of buzz if they fall into the hands of the right readers.

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